Monday, March 31, 2008

Travel journal: San Francisco

As we headed out of the city yesterday, I lamented to Brian, "I don't know about today. I mean, the Giants lost and I got peed on."

He pointed out that it had been an awesome day of doing touristy things in San Francisco: after the baseball game (which, yes, the Giants lost, but it was preseason, so it doesn't count, and we got to lounge around in the sun and look out at the bay)(oh, and I shouldn't forget to mention that it's good to be back at a ballpark that understands the importance of garlic fries) (also: baby's first ball game! baby's first garlic fries!), we walked up to Coit Tower (and actually went to the top of the tower, which I'd never done), then climbed up Lombard Street (I cannot believe I'm actually talking about doing a marathon in San Francisco; nice, flat San Diego was totally the way to go before), and then went for a trolley ride. And (and!) we did it all with my friend Mark who I hadn't seen in years. Which, all in all, comes out to more positives than negatives, even if being peed on (at least it was by my own kid) does get count extra on the negative side.


I started to write something last Tuesday, but I realized quickly that it was basically going to say, "GAHHHH. THE NOISE. MAKE. IT. STOP." Because the noise of the gigantic fan that had been running in my apartment since Sunday afternoon was making me a little bit insane.

On Sunday, Brian seemed to be taking the flooding in our apartment more seriously than I was. I mean, after we'd discovered it and called maintenance and whatnot. I was stressed out when it was happening, too, but once someone had come to pull up the carpet pad, set a gigantic fan going, and promise to return to check on my washer the next day, I felt that I was doing okay. I contemplated leaving that night with the baby, but with my sister using my dad's spare room and Adriana's "Jewish grandparents" out of town, I decided to just stay put until morning. We left the fan running overnight, and I joked about people who spend a lot of money on white noise machines when we'd gotten this one for free. But even with being out of the house all day on Monday and for a good chunk of Tuesday, by Tuesday afternoon all the "white noise" was giving me a headache. Now I was the one strung up and cranky and Brian seemed relaxed. He turned off the fan when he got home on Tuesday night, and it was amazing what the relative quiet did for my mental health.

My mental health was improved even more on Thursday, when the floor was totally dried out and a man came to put down new a new pad and re-lay the carpet. And Friday when the maintenance guys finally fixed my washer and I no longer was going to have people in and out of the apartment checking on things. And Saturday, when we finally caught up with the laundry (I was wondering how three people could wear so many clothes in one week, and seriously considering a nudist colony), it was good to feel like things were finally back in order.

Now the refrigerator is humming, the washer is spinning, and the baby is dancing to the Dixie Chicks while playing with a beeping kitchen timer. And the house seems quiet.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Am totally psychic

Yesterday I correctly predicted who was at my front door, just moments after I heard knock. Of course, this may have been mostly because on my way to answer it, I saw the huge puddle of water in front of my washer and when you are in an upstairs apartment and your hallway is flooded, the knock on your front door is pretty much certain to be your downstairs neighbor coming to inform you that her ceiling is dripping.

Sometimes I really want to buy a house. But then something like this happens, and it is quite nice to have an emergency maintenance number to call, so that someone else will come pull up the carpet, dispose of the pad underneath, and set a giant fan going. "Nice" because someone else is dealing with it, I mean. Having my hallway and bedroom carpet all pulled up isn't nice. Toddlers and exposed nails? Not a great combo. Adriana was good about staying away last night, but we're abandoning ship today. Grandpa probably needed a baby fix anyhow.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Nursing nursling

Today at yoga, as we mamas began our sun salutations, Adriana picked out a baby doll from the toy box. It was naked, but she found a little t-shirt for it, and, unable to coordinate actually dressing the doll, wrapped the shirt around the doll and carried it around for a while. Finally she sat down next to me, lifted her shirt, and pushed the doll's head against her chest. My little nursling pretending to nurse! She nodded seriously and made the noises she does when she's imitating adult conversation, while we all laughed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

14 months

I just have to say that 14 months is SO MUCH BETTER than 12 or 13 months. I mean, I survived those months. I am here to tell the tale. But I am so much happier now. Of course, I'm not sure that what's changed is Adriana. I think a lot of it is that I really needed to adjust from babyhood to toddlerhood, and I don't adjust very quickly to change. But with some time, I can manage it, and I have. So I am handling my toddler better and because of this, or because Adriana is getting better at expressing herself, or perhaps because of the alignment of the planets, life is seeming pretty good these days. This is not to say that it's all sunshines and rainbows and unicorns around here. But now our daily routine is something along the line of sunshine-tantrum-rainbow-tantrum-unicorn-tantrum-tantrum-chocolate- tantrum, rather than just tantrum-tantrum-tantrum-tantrum-tantrum-tantrum-hey- I-know-what-let's-have-another-tantrum-tantrum-tantrum. See how that's an improvement?

Adriana loves to read books. I had been afraid for a while that she just wasn't going to enjoy reading (because a child's behavior at one year old is surely an exact predictor of her behavior for the rest of her life, right?), but now it seems that it's all we do. Her favorites from last month, Good Dog, Carl and Doggies: A Counting and Barking Book are still at the top of her list, but we also spend a fair amount of time reading The Little Engine That Could and The Paper-Bag Princess. A lot of the time we read only a page or so before Adriana goes wandering off, but other times she will sit quietly through the entire story--and then sit through it two more times in a row. Sometimes I think she could sit here and read books all day, but we're also spending a lot of time at the park. She loves to watch older kids play, and she'll try to hug the other toddlers who are close to her size. She climbs up the play structures and sometimes will climb down carefully, although usually she wants to hold my hand or go down the slide on my lap.

Another favorite thing is music. It was one of Adriana's first signs, and almost whenever the house is quiet she will go to stand by the stereo and request that I put on music. She claps with the audience on life CDs and dances to bouncier songs. She seems to be a big fan of the Dixie Chicks, Erin Mckeown, and the Clash, in particular, but she'll dance to pretty much anything peppy. sometimes when we're reading her a book she'll take a "dance break" when a song catches her attention, and will stand up to bounce to the music for a few seconds before returning to the story.

She still doesn't have any words, although she is babbling a bit more, but she is continuing to sign. She signs "dad" when she hears someone coming up the steps in the evening (and will pitch a mighty fit when she realizes that it was our neighbor and Brian isn't actually home yet), and "mom" when she hears me in another room or sees any female figure in a book. She signs "dog" when she sees a dog in the park (unless it's a really small one, in which case she signs "cat") or when she hears one bark outside. She's starting to put together series of signs, such as "eat" and "ball" when she wants a grape, and she recently threw her sippy cup to the floor, telling me "all done water" with signs before raising her arms to be picked up and signing "milk."

Her sleeping and eating have improved a great deal in the past couple of weeks. One night, after a visit from her grandparents, we sat down to dinner, and Adriana devoured her food. We kept bringing her more because she kept eating. She woke up once that night, and I thought I was in heaven. The next night she repeated her eating and sleeping, and I thought I was living some sort of charmed life. On the third night, Adriana refused to eat much and I didn't worry about it, until that night when she woke up every two hours and I discovered that even after a year and a half of interrupted sleep my body had quickly become enamored of more solid sleep--I could hardly function the next day. So our evenings are now rather tedious as we spend several hours trying to get the baby to eat. I don't do too much coaxing, I hope, and I try not to let myself get too emotional about it (you may think I'm kidding, but this is my ability to sleep we're talking about here), but I do follow the baby around and give her bites of food every time she gives me the chance. I do worry about the habit of not feeding her only at the table, and not making her sit down with us, but putting her in the highchair when she doesn't want to be doesn't seem to make matters any better. Plus, I figure any habits she has this week, good or bad, are likely to change within two weeks, so I just go with whatever works.

She is more willing to eat a variety of foods these days, and she doesn't make horrible faces whenever she tastes something new, but it must be food she can feed herself. She eats a lot of beans, asparagus, carrots, grapes, rice cakes, and cheese. It may not be the best or most varied diet, but at least it's relatively healthy. I haven't noticed her nursing much less, except at night of course, but losing those night nursings did seem to affect even my daytime supply, making nursing painful for a few days last week. The problem seemed to be solved with some fenugreek. So now I smell a bit like pancakes, but there are worse things to smell like, and now nursing Adriana doesn't leave me in pain and her frustrated.

Best of all right now is the way she seeks out cuddles. She leans her face in for a kiss, gives hugs and pats, tugs on my jeans when I'm standing, so I will sit down and make a lap for her to sit in. After her nap, she likes to sit in the armchair with me and snuggle for a bit while she wakes up. We don't read or listen to music or anything. It's one of my favorite times of day.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Nature walk: Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

All week long, Brian talked about wanting to get out for a hike on Saturday. On Friday night we discarded plans for Big Basin in favor of staying a little closer to home, when we read about the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve on Bay Area Hiker. We ended up not following the walk from the website, instead doing a loop comprised of the Canyon, Bella Vista, and Indian Creek trails--which came to about 5.5 miles. It was a perfect, sunny spring day, a perfect day for a hike.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Reading in the car while the baby slept (bringing her into the house usually wakes her up, so I just carry a book around in the diaper bag) recently, I paused when I saw the word "gloaming." Another one for my list, I thought, and my mind began to wander. "Sunset" had made my list, and when I saw "dusk" on Eleeza's, I realized that "twilight" should have been on mine. Considering how so many words for the same thing make me happy, I decided that it must be something about that time of day, some kind of magic to the sinking of the sun, the ending of the day. And I think that magic seems stronger this time of year as it becomes apparent that we are on the other side of Solstice at last. In the winter it becomes dark before I've had much of a chance to notice, but as the days begin to lengthen, I can appreciate sunset, dusk, twilight, the gloaming. I can indulge nostalgia for other times when I've noticed that particular time of day.

I remember drawing with chalk on the back patio and playing on the swingset and picking plums off the tree and eating them in the evenings--a whole series of memories I can't quite place in time, all mashed together in my mind.

I remember playing outside after dinner with our new puppy when I was ten years old, my brother and sister and me, all chasing and being chased.

I remember walking home from the house of a friend who lived up the hill from me, my clothing damp and leaving me just a little too cold because the sprinklers had come on while we were sitting outside and we thought it would be a good idea to run through them, even though we were old enough to be too cool for that kind of thing.

I remember coming up the slope from McHenry, probably sometime in spring of my junior year of college. I was alone and it was quiet, and as I passed the (hardly used) student center I felt light and happy. The sun had mostly set, but color still streaked the sky and the bay.

I remember sitting on my front step in Alexandria, watching neighbors climb off the bus and take their dogs for a walk before dinner, while I read poetry.

I remember holding hands with Brian, while he wore Adriana on his chest and we took a walk when he was returned home after work last spring.


Sometimes I get frustrated when I'm upset because I just want Brian to listen to what I'm saying and agree with me that whatever it is just sucks. Instead, he listens and then starts coming up with solutions. I thought it was just in his nature to fix things, and didn't necessarily understand his impulse.

But yesterday I got a phone call from a friend. She was angry and upset, to the point that she was unable to sleep and could only lie in the dark fretting. I listened to her talk, and wracked my brain for any relevant advice, some sort of solution to her problem. I came up with very little of any use, and finally I just said, with complete honesty, "That's awful. I don't blame you for being bothered by that. I'd be furious."

There was a pause on the other end of the phone and a deep breath from all those thousands of miles away. Then: "Thank you." I didn't laugh out loud, but I was amused at how just hearing someone say that it was okay to be upset about this problem could help my friend calm down that quickly, as well as my own "fix it" mentality.